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Things We do To Make A Difference

Article about us in MADD Driven Magazine the fall of the 1998


Donald Valone
(MADD, Michigan)

Don Valone volunteers for MADD to protect other families from the type of tragedy his family endured in 1990 when a drunk driver hit their vehicle. Although the family survived, they all suffered serious injuries. Three of the four Valones suffered closed head injuries. Daughter Jamie's injuries were the most severe. In addition to a head injury, daughter Samantha suffered fractured vertebrae and gastrointestinal damage. Don and his wife, Kathy, suffered broken legs, bruised organs, including heart and lungs, fractured ribs and lacerations.

Today, Kathy is in constant pain and faces double knee replacements. Don, a building services supervisor for Kmart, walks in constant pain and suffers from memory loss. Both Samantha and Jamie have learning disabilities and Jamie still has seizures. At 16, she lags behind her peers both emotionally and socially.

"I need to make something good come out of something so terrible," said Don. "It is with me every day of my life. I see my kids, my wife and myself living in pain forever, never to be the same again. I need to know that we can make a difference."

Don wears many hats for MADD. Previously a Chapter Adviser to MADD's National Board of Directors, Don currently is a National Regional Director with oversight for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. An advanced victim advocate, Don speaks in Michigan circuit court and at victim impact panels where he tells convicted drunk driving offenders how his crash has affected his family. Don also has served as state chairman of MADD Michigan.

Kathy works with MADD, Oakland County Chapter and is the coordinator for MADD, Lapeer County Community Action Team. Kathy educates young people about the dangers of underage drinking and drinking and driving. The Valones also have worked with the Detroit Children's Hospital, helping with education outreach on head injuries and seizures.

"When I am down and ready to give up, all I have to do is look into Jamie's eyes - I see the little girl I loved gone and I pull myself right up," says Don. "Jamie is a totally different person, one I love just as much as before, but I do miss the other Jamie and wonder what she could have become. "I'm scared to death that this will happen again," says Don. "We must keep up our fight so no more lives are ruined by a totally preventable crash by a drunk driver."

Kathy wins Redbooks Mother Of The Year In May of 1997


The following is the story from REDBOOK magazine from May of 1997 were my wife Kathy was chosen by Rebook as 1 of 5 MADD mothers of the year. This is were the photo of us and Mrs. Dole came from. I'm very proud of her to have been chosen out of all the mother across the USA.

The Valone family survived the horrible night of February 9, 1990,but it greatly changed them.

Hit head on by a drunk driver, all the Valones suffered critical injuries. Husband Don received trauma to the brain ,broken leg , smashed knees , and various cut and bruises. Seven years later , he has attention deficit disorder problems with his memory. Samantha age 9 at the time of crash, suffered internal injuries, fractured vertebrae, and a head injury that has left her with lasting difficulty in reading comprehension.

Kathleen Valones legs were broken , her keens crushed , heart and lungs bruised. Despite these injuries she managed to stagger to one of the ambulances on the scene to be with her youngest daughter, Jamie, 7 as she was rushed to the hospital with a severe brain injury and a tear in the brain lining. At the emergency room mother and daughter were separated, Valone could hear doctors call a CODE BLUE and shouted across the emergency room , " Jamie Mom loves you." Remembering today, she cries softly. " I like to think that help pull her through". Jamie now 15 did survive, but the crash left her with severe learning disabilities and epilepsy. She needs close supervision , provided mostly by her mother. Kathleen Valone herself, at 42 , walks with a cane and will need her knees replaced at some point . Despite their personal challenges, Kathleen and Don Valone have become two of MADD's most valuable players in the state of Michigan. Don Valone , who work's at Kmart's national headquarters in Troy , is state chairman of MADD Michigan. Kathleen Valone is active in MADD chapters in Oakland County , were the Valones used to live, and in Lapeer County were they now live. She often speaks to youth groups and at junior high schools, and has become a role model for other parents whose children have suffered impairment as a result of drunk driving. "There's one reason that drives me to do everything I'm doing, "she says. "In order for me to live with what's happened to us and to get through each day, I have to make something good out of something bad." She has plenty of experience doing that. When the public schools didn't have a program suitable for Jamie's disability, the Valone's along with other parents stared a private school. North Star Academy, specifically for learning -disabled children. This year North Star Academy has 25 students and five teachers. And though it's located 55 miles from the Valone's live, Kathleen makes sure Jamie get there every day. "There was a time when we had more bad days then good," Valone's says. " We have more good days than bad now".

Enter content here

Article Kathy did about Traumatic Stress Disorder
In The Detroit News April 18 2000

Tuesday, April 18, 2000 The Detriot News

Traumatic events upend lives

Mental health experts help people through the anguish of violence, accidents and death in the family

Kathy Valone of Lapeer suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after the family car was struck by a drunk driver in 1990.

By Tracy Boyd / Detroit News Health Writer

At 6:50 p.m. on Feb. 9, 1990, a drunk driver struck the 1988 Plymouth Horizon carrying Don and Kathy Valone and their daughters, Samantha, then 9, and Jamie, then 7.

The last thing I remember is seeing his parking lights coming straight at us, recalls Kathy Valone of Lapeer. My husband reached over for me. Then he hit us.
The crash left Don with a broken leg, cracked ribs and a head injury; Kathy with broken legs, broken ribs and a bruised heart; and Samantha with a fractured back and injuries that required an emergency bowel resection. Jamie suffered a traumatic brain injury; now age 18, she requires constant nursing care.

Beyond the physical injuries, Valone says, were the emotional ones. When she shut her eyes, she saw parking lights barreling towards her. She stayed in the house, venturing out only to visit relatives a few miles away. She and her family had trouble sleeping, experiencing nightmares about the crash. It was several years before she could drive a car again at dusk.

What Valone went through is called post-traumatic stress disorder. Though many people still think its only diagnosed in war veterans and those who have been in combat or captivity situations, the disorder can affect anyone whos been through any kind of traumatic event. That includes learning about a family members unexpected death, being involved in a car accident or natural disaster, or being a victim or witness to a physical assault.

Though not everyone who experiences a trauma goes on to develop the disorder, the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder is twice as high in women as men.

Since the disorder was defined in 1980, the potential causes have become more inclusive, says Dr. Naomi Breslau, director of psychiatry research at Henry Ford Health System. That means researchers and physicians have realized there are many traumatic situations that can spur development of symptoms.

Breslaus 1998 study of Michigan residents revealed more people than previously believed have experienced traumatic events that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Sixty percent of people in the Metro Detroit area, for example, reported learning about a sudden, unexpected death of a close friend or relative. Breslaus research showed that 14 percent of people who have such an experience go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, nothing can predict with certainty who develops the disorder, who does not and why.

We do know that the severity of the trauma can help predict whether someone will develop post-traumatic stress disorder, but its not 100 percent accurate, says Dr. Israel Liberzon, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and co-director of the recently opened Center for Trauma, Stress and Anxiety in Ann Arbor. He has research grants to study the neurobiology of the brain as it relates to trauma and stress.

There is one group of people that is extremely resilient and isnt affected by even severe trauma, such as being in a concentration camp for five years, Liberzon says. There is another group that is very vulnerable and will experience symptoms with even minor traumas. The rest of us fall somewhere in the middle.

According to the PTSD Alliance, a national organization of post-traumatic stress disorder experts, people with the disorder experience three clusters of symptoms that last for more than one month:

Re-experiencing the trauma. For example, people may dream about the event, or relive the event if faced with reminders of it.

Avoidance of reminders of the event, detachment from close personal relationships with family or friends, feeling numb or no longer enjoying daily life.

Feelings of hyperarousal, having difficulty sleeping, becoming easily agitated or irritable, or having a hard time concentrating.
These symptoms usually develop within the first three months after the trauma, but may not appear until months or years have passed. They may continue for years, or subside and return.

And for many people, they are heartbreakingly disruptive.

After my husband died, Sharaya didnt want to go to sleep, says Garden City resident Darlene Darr of her daughter, who is now 12. Darrs husband died unexpectedly in 1999 after being struck by a car while walking to the store. A few months later, one of Darrs neighbors was murdered, which upset Sharaya even more.

She would refuse to fall asleep until 4 a.m. or so, then wake up midafternoon and want to go shopping at 11 p.m. She was easily startled by loud noises and had panic attacks. If we went to the mall, I had to be ready to leave at a moments notice. If I went out without her, shed call my cell phone several times just to make sure it was working.

A year after losing her father, Darr says Sharaya is making measured progress.

She was always sweet and mellow, but being handed adult-sized emotions to deal with was hard, Darr says. The counseling has helped, and shes slowly getting better.

The process often takes time. Tennis star Monica Seles, for instance, received psychological therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder for several years after a disturbed spectator stabbed her at a match in Hamburg, Germany.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a public health problem because of its potential complications and long-term effects, says Rachel Yehuda, vice-president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and a professor of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical School in New York.

The total direct and indirect costs to society of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, has been estimated at $42 billion annually.

There are a lot of consequences with PTSD mental illness, physical illness, psychological factors, Yehuda says. There is a real cost to society of having people disabled by something that happens to them. It behooves us to figure out whats happening and offer help.

Though many cases of post-traumatic stress disorder do relate to a personal event, experiencing such an event is not the only criteria.

There are not only individual biological differences Liberzon is studying; there are other outside factors that can influence development of the disorder. Thats according to Dr. Sandy Koltonow, an emergency medicine physician with William Beaumont Hospital. Koltonow also holds a psychology degree and has a private psychology practice, specializing in the treatment of rescue workers (who are exposed to trauma each day).

A job with chronic high stress firemen, emergency personnel, policemen can contribute. So can being exposed to traumatic situations on television or in the newspaper.

You dont need to experience something in person, Koltonow says. The American Psychological Association says you can experience trauma by proxy. That means if a family member has a serious illness, your child has a trauma, you see a horrific house fire on television, that traumatizes you.

Koltonow says that dealing with a chronic illness either yours or that of a spouse or family member can bring on symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

I often see patients with chronic medical conditions cancer is the big one, but people with conditions like diabetes and heart disease, too who are dependent on the medical system for their care, he says. They must visit frequently, possibly wait long periods and spend a lot of time caring for themselves or their loved one. Thats all additive.

Kathy Valone and her husband still attend Mothers Against Drunk Driving support groups.

Sitting with people who have gone or are going through what you went through is so helpful, Valone says. The networking and sharing of information are good. And sometimes, its enough to know someone there will hold your hand while you cry.

Ten years after the accident, she says, Its only now that I am starting to feel like a whole person again. Its only recently that I feel I can cope with the memories on my own.

Tell us your story
Do you have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from an event in your life, whether it happened to you or someone else? Tell us about it. Send a letter to Health & Fitness, The Detroit News, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226. Or fax it to (313) 222-2451, or e-mail it to .

Copyright 2000, The Detroit News

Article By Nicole Bondi / The Detroit News

Diana's death helps MADD renew concern

To one group, Princess Diana's car accident -- though tragic -- was not a shock.
"This has shown something we've been saying for a long time, and that's drunk drivers don't discriminate," said Katherine Prescott, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
MADD, whose leaders met in Dearborn over the weekend, is using Diana's death to bring drunken driving to the public's attention. Now the challenge is to keep it there.
"Because we have made progress over the years ... there has been some assumption out there that the problem's been solved," Prescott said. "We have to get the message across that although it's come down, it's coming back up."
In Michigan, fatal crashes involving alcohol declined steadily, from 705 in 1988 to 459 in 1992. Since then, the number's risen to 487 in 1996.
Fatalities declined then leveled off in part because injuries have increased.
"People tend to see the number of fatalities go down, but they have a tendency to ignore the injury numbers," said Don Valone, Michigan state chairman of MADD.
Valone, who lives in Lapeer, became involved in MADD after his family was hit by a drunken driver in 1990. All four survived, but suffered serious -- and lasting -- injuries. Valone experienced trauma to the brain that left him with attention deficit disorder and memory problems. His wife, Kathleen, still walks with a cane because of the broken legs and crushed knees she suffered. Both his daughters have learning problems due to head injuries.
Although it's hard to get exact figures, MADD estimates that more than 1 million people are injured each year because of drunken drivers.
Injuries have increased because cars are made better, and air bags and seat belts save more lives. Also, medicine is better and doctors can do more to save a victim, such as Valone's daughter, Jamie.
"Her injury, if it would've been six months earlier, she would've died that night," Valone said.

MADD's activities
* Recruit more young people. MADD's Youth in Action program starts kids early on the crusade against driving drunk. One youth sits on Michigan's MADD board and the national organization is looking at adding a teen to its board.
* Reduce the blood alcohol level from 0.10 to 0.08. Already, 15 states have passed the law; Michigan's not one of them. One of the bill's main supporters was Sen. Doug Carl, and with his recent death, its future is in question. In the 15 states that have adopted the 0.08 level, the numbers of drunken driving-related fatalities fallen 16 percent to 18 percent.
* Increase punishments. When Katherine Prescott's son was killed in 1988, the drunken driver who hit him -- a repeat offender -- got six months in prison. Now, most states have felony laws and stiffer sentences.
* New ad campaign. MADD sent two public service announcements to newspapers in the top 150 markets that center on Princess Diana.
* For more information on local MADD activities, call the state office at (517) 631-6233.
Sources: Katherine Prescott, MADD national president; Don Valone, Michigan state chairman.

Copyright 1997, The Detroit News